The QT

Friday 19 July 2024

Culture digest

A round up of stories from the North East’s cultural scene which have been on our radar this week… and which we think should be on yours

Popular stage show Birdsong to return to the region

A new production of First World War drama Birdsong begins a national tour in the autumn, arriving at Newcastle Theatre Royal from January 21 to 25 next year.

Rachel Wagstaff’s stage adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’s 1993 bestselling novel of war and romance premiered in London in 2010.

This new production, directed by Alastair Whatley, opens in Salisbury in September.

Birdsong is a tale with linked but alternating narratives.

Max Bowden as Jack Firebrace in Birdsong. Credit: Michael Wharley

The first, introducing central character Stephen Wraysford, is set during the First World War and the years leading up to it.

The second, set in the 1970s, concerns Stephen’s granddaughter, Elizabeth, and her efforts to decipher his coded wartime journals.

A key character is Jack Firebrace, an ex-miner serving with the Royal Engineers in a tunnelling company. 

Max Bowden, known for his TV viewers roles in EastEnders (Ben Mitchell) and Waterloo Road (Justin Fitzgerald), will play him on tour, having previously played Tipper, a young soldier.

Birdsong, he says, is a project close to his heart, highlighting “the tragedy of war, yet the beauty of humanity simultaneously through strong relationships under extreme circumstances”.

Tickets from the box office on 0191 232 7010 or online at the Theatre Royal website.

Cranking up the volume in Stockton

Shouting about the North East arts and music scene has been the stock-in-trade of NE Volume for the past eight years – and the 100th edition is imminent.

Founders Lee and Adam Allcock are marking it with a 100th Edition Weekender at the NE Volume Music Bar in Stockton featuring 20 acts over three days, from July 27 to 29.

Ross Millard of The Futureheads will headline

Headlining on the Friday will be Ross Millard – not with The Futureheads this time but as a DJ with eclectic musical tastes.

“This is going to be special,” promise the Allcocks. “We absolutely can’t wait to showcase the talent on offer right here in the North East.”

Tickets are on sale from See Tickets via the NE Volume Music Bar website.

Art gallery comes home

The Globe Gallery will reopen in its original North Shields home later this month.

Located in the heart of the town’s evolving cultural quarter, as well as exhibition space, the Gallery will feature a community room for creative workshops and health and wellbeing projects.

The Globe first opened at 97 Howard Street in 1995. It went on to move to Newcastle in 2011 and has since had half a dozen homes including Commercial Union House.

Rashida Davison at the new/old Globe Gallery in North Shields

Founder Rashida Davison says she is delighted to be returning to the venue’s ‘spiritual home’.

“We are returning in time for our 30th anniversary and this is a very special moment for us.

 “Globe Gallery has kept its close ties with North Shields, we have a lot of friends and a core audience here who have supported us for many years.

 “We are an open-door organisation, we believe in making art accessible to everyone. Chatting with passers-by, inviting people in, and making connections with people from all walks of life is an important part of what Globe does. This prominent corner site is perfect for that, it means we can be close to the community and guided by the people of North Shields.”

The Globe Gallery will open on July 27 with a special preview event. Reserve your ticket here.

The Ouseburn Festival returns

Two days of free live music, art, performances, family fun, laughs and tasty food are on the cards for visitors to Newcastle’s Ouseburn this weekend (July 13 and 14) as the Ouseburn Festival gets underway.

Street performers, food and art markets, record fairs, a climbing tower, pony grooming, a dog show, stand up comedy, wildlife walks, treasure hunts, craft workshops, boat trips and a cracking programme of live music will all feature across Saturday and Sunday from 10am until after 8pm.

Comic Elaine Robertson will take to the stand up stage as part of the Ouseburn Festival

NARC Fest has booked bands for stages across a number of Ouseburn venues including The Old Coal Yard, The Cumberland Arms, Cluny 2, The Tyne Bar, The Grove and Little Buildings. There’s also live music from 2pm to 8pm on both days at the Two by Two Brewery and Tap.

Click here to download the full programme or visit the Ouseburn Festival website for all the information you need.

Gosforth Beer Festival is back on tap

The return of Gosforth Civic Theatre’s Beer Festival is promising ‘something for everyone’.

The popular event, which takes place from August 2-4 and promises to fill the Newcastle venue (and it’s outdoor areas) with excellent beers and entertainment to match, is back after a two-year break.

Twenty keg and 10 cask beers will be flowing alongside a dedicated spirit and wine bar, which makes its debut this year and a low and non-alcoholic bar for those who want to soak up everything but the booze.

Gosforth Beer Festival is back. Credit: Rhiannon Banks Photogrpahy

Music comes from DJs and acts including Sister Shack DJ, Awkward Black Girl, Bigfatpig (who are replacing the originally billed Cortney Dixon as Saturday headliners); jazz collective SwanNek and Elizabeth Liddle.

Plentiful refreshments will be on offer from the GCT Cafe Bar as well as guest evening pop-ups Goodtimes Tacos (Friday) and Scream for Pizza (Saturday).

GCT’s CEO Rob Huggins said: “The 2024 Beer Festival at GCT is extra special because not only is it returning after a two-year hiatus, but this year marks 50 years since Gosforth Council opened Gosforth Civic Hall at this spot.

“Before Liberdade’s vision for a modern, accessible, community-focused venue at the site, it was the vibrant centre of the community for nearly three decades and, having re-opened last year following an extensive refurbishment, we hope that we have continued with that legacy, and restored some civic pride to such a vital local building.

“This year, GCT Beer Festival is our celebration of that civic pride and we look forward to a bumper crowd joining us.”

While the event is free, donations are welcomed and can be made via the Gosforth Civic Theatre website – where you can also find full Beer Festival details.

Tourists offer boost for County Durham

New attractions have played a key role in driving an increase in tourism across County Durham.

Latest figures have shown more than an 18% increase in the county’s visitor economy, which hits a £1bn record landmark in 2022.

New attractions including the The Auckland Project’s Spanish Gallery and Faith Museum in Bishop Auckland as well as additions to the 1950s town at Beamish Museum are cited as playing an important role in the increase.

The Grand cinema at its new home on Beamish Front Street

Meanwhile more recent openings, including archive treasure trove, The Story, the New Hall at Locomotion and Raby Castle’s The Rising – together with the return of outdoor show extravaganza, Kynren – are expected to help continue the trend.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “The county has really shown its potential in the past three years and has greatly benefited from new attractions and developments over recent years, and with more to come it puts us in a strong position for 2024 and beyond.”

Street art festival to make its debut

Newcastle’s first free street art festival will introduce itself next month powered by a strong sense of community spirit.

Taking place on August 3 and 4, ELEMENTS will feature around 20 artists from the region including Mul, Bobzilla, Mr Zee, Cack Handed Kid, Creative Ginger, Sune, Micro79, Prefab 77, and Mark One87 who will come together to transform the Ouseburn’s Woods Pottery site into a public gallery with 14 large-scale murals.

There will also be a marketplace where artists can sell their work.

Tracey Moore (PNE) Carlo Viglianisi of Building Culture (red top) and Mark Shields from Mark One 87 . Credit: Steve Brock Photography

Mark Shields (aka Mark One87) who has spearheaded the event said: “We are aiming to transform a small piece of land in the Ouseburn into an area of creativity and vibrancy.

“We will have live music with a dynamic mix of hip hop, funk, and soul from local DJs, complemented by delicious food from street vendors and of course some of the most current and innovative art work too.”

As well as support from Building Culture CIC and Project North East, local businesses and organisations have got behind the event including Chilli Studios, Byker Community Trust, Foundation Futures, Wild Roots Community Garden, and Shieldfield Youth Programme.

Tracey Moore, director of PNE, said: “This event will not only be a spectacular display of creativity but also provide a fantastic backdrop for other activities in Ouseburn. The impact will be felt throughout the year, establishing a new cultural destination for Newcastle.”

Nexus teams up with Gem Arts

The Masala Festival. which takes place from July 15-21 will once again be receiving headline support from Metro operator, Nexus.

Run by Gateshead charity GemArts the popular event, which celebrates South Asian culture via a glorious mix of music, dance, films, poetry, exhibitions, family activities and incredible Indian street food, takes place across various venues and locations.

Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band will play at Metro stations in Newcastle

Two of which will be the Monument and Haymarket Metro stations on July 19 when the Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band promise to wow crowds.

Vikas Kumar MBE, GemArts director said: We have an exceptional lineup of regional, national, and international artists spanning the very best music, dance, literature, poetry, films, exhibitions, workshops, events for children and families, and delicious Indian street food. 

“We are really excited about this year’s Masala Festival programme and delighted that we are strengthening our partnership with Nexus, and look forward to welcoming audiences from the North East and beyond.”

For full programme details, visit the GemArts website... or look out for our preview in next week’s QT.

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